Thursday April 24, 2014

TRU, TIB sign deal to move forward on aboriginal education

A pole on the Thompson Rivers University campus will be flying the flag of the Tk'emlups Indian Band as the two signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize their co-operative relationship.

TIB Chief Shane Gottfriedson and TRU president Alan Shaver shook hands and exchanged gifts Monday morning after signing the agreement.

"We truly believe the memorandum of understanding and the language in it speaks volumes on our relationship," said Gottfriedson.

The two dignitaries pointed out that TRU's roots began on the band land, as Cariboo College held its first year of classes there.

Cariboo College was born on the TIB, now, like a growing child, it has matured into a university.

"Now the task is to keep the spirit of the agreement moving forward," Gottfriedson said.

"This commemorates that beginning when Cariboo College and the Tk'emlups Indian Band were together at the start," said Shaver, who noted that First Nations education is a priority for TRU.

The agreement renews and revitalizes the relationship between the band and the university, he said.

Gottfriedson credited the band's councillor overseeing education, Ed Jensen, and Nathan Matthew, former chief of the Simpcw First Nation, who is now director of aboriginal education at TRU, with crafting the MOU.

Shaver said Uli Scheck, TRU's provost and vice-president academic, was also involved with creating the memorandum.

Scheck said education is a vital investment because material things, like cars and houses, can be lost. Learning is forever.

Education and knowledge are key to helping First Nations people move forward, said Gottfriedson.

"I truly believe that education will rise us out of poverty, that education will allow us to be self sustaining," he said.

Ten years ago, when Gottfriedson became chief, the band only had one education worker. Now there are several, enough to have a department, as was evident when they posed for a photo of the MOU signing.

Jensen said the hope is to be able to find a use for some of the band's traditional knowledge in the work they do.

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